A pyrite action group has been formed in Co Limerick for people whose homes and lives have been affected by defective concrete blocks in their properties.
One such couple, Ann and Kieran Ryan from Askeaton, built their family home in 1990, however in 2010 cracks began forming in the plaster due to pyrite.
Now in a state of disrepair with deep cracks, the property’s window frames have buckled under the strain of the movement of the defective blocks.
“This story needs to be told, there is very little publicity about it in Limerick, most of the cases we know of are in Donegal and Mayo, but we would like to know if others in Limerick have been affected,” Ms Ryan said.
“We just don't know how long the walls are going to hold, the windows are straining, upstairs especially, it really is a nightmare,” she added.
“We’re just worn out from it, we are worried the house is going to cave in around us.”
Over the years the cracks have spread like a virus throughout the home, leaving the couple in fear the house will fall in on them.
A local action group has now formed online to encourage others to share their stories.
Ms Ryan (58) described their situation as “soul-destroying” and joined thousands of others at a national protest in Dublin on Tuesday, calling on the government for 100 per cent redress over the pyrite and mica scandal.
“We can’t afford to knock our house but it will have to be demolished, it’s so badly damaged, and its only getting worse. We are living on our nerves,” explained the mother-of-two who was recently made redundant from her catering job of 27 years, due to the impact of Covid-19.
At night you’d be listening to cracking sounds and wondering if the walls are going to fall out.
“At night you’d be listening to cracking sounds and wondering if the walls are going to fall out, it’s that bad.”
The Ryans said they are thousands of euros out of pocket, which they spent investigating the cracks, hiring structural engineers, and having the blocks tested for pyrite.
Mr Ryan (60) said they also sought legal advice, but due to financial restraints, they decided not to pursue the company which they claim sold them defective concrete blocks they used to build their dream home.
“We were advised not to take them on because they might end up taking our site off of us is we lost the case,” Mr Ryan said.
We are only hoping the Government will help us, because we can’t do it ourselves
“It’s a disgrace, we are only hoping the Government will help us, because we can’t do it ourselves, there is no one going to give me, someone who is 60 years of age, a mortgage.”
The damage started in the west gable and has spread across the house “through the kitchen, the bedrooms, upstairs, over windows,” Mr Ryan said.
“I’m concerned for our safety because it’s getting worse. The rain comes through the cracks in the kitchen, when you get heavy showers, it pours down onto the floor.”
The family have attempted to stem the leaks, as well as the cold in winter, by pumping silicone into the cracks, but Mr Ryan said this was not an adequate solution.
“One engineer said to me to plaster it up, but that has been proven not to work because after six months all the plaster starts to drop off again because the blocks blow.”
“If you were to power-wash the corner blocks, in the space of a minute, the water would be into the kitchen, the blocks just crumble away.”
Mr Ryan’s sister Ann, who also attended Tuesday’s national priest in Dublin, is also battling pyrite in her home.
“They thought it was subsidence and they got their home underpinned which cost them thousands and it turned out it wasn't subsidence, it was the blocks,” she said.
“It was over ten years ago when we started having problems and I got blocks from the same place as my brother. The cracks are quiet bad, the corner blocks have lifted out badly.”
“When we took the blocks out to test them, some of them were like mud, they just crumbled into dust.
“Limerick, Clare and Sligo are not included in the grant scheme for Donegal and Mayo and we are not satisfied with this - we are looking for 100 per cent redress too,” she added.